With recent reports circling, claiming that John Mozeliak is going to be making some bullpen changes, one has to wonder what, if anything, can be done to salvage the season.
It is no lie that the St. Louis Cardinals’ bullpen has been, to put it quite honestly, terrible. Pitching alone does not win a game, but it can lose one very easily. Relievers have destroyed games, with the most recent example being Daniel Poncedeleon’s MLB debut that resulted in a no decision. The rookie threw seven no-hit innings before being pulled and replaced by the bullpen. The decision to pull him angered fans, though he had thrown 116 pitches and allegedly told catcher Yadier Molina that he was feeling tired. So Poncedeleon was pulled and Hicks immediately gave up a hit, with closer Bud Norris giving up four more. Norris lost the game in the ninth inning, giving up a homerun and then the winning run. This is just one example of how this bullpen has ruined games.
Greg Holland has a 7.92 ERA and is on a one year, $14 million contract. To give him some credit, he has had several 1-2-3 innings, but that is nowhere near enough to compensate for the games he has blown. He may not have the highest ERA, but given the paycheck he is receiving, he is, arguably, the most disappointing. Technically Tyler Lyons has a higher ERA at 8.64, but he has pitched 16.2 innings, as compared to Holland’s 25.0. These two have the highest ERAs in the bullpen, with Luke Gregerson following at 7.11, Matt Bowman at 6.26, Brett Cecil at 5.70, John Brebbia at 3.93, Mike Mayers at 3.79, Sam Tuivailala at 3.69, Jordan Hicks at 3.31 and finally, Bud Norris at 3.29. To have numbers at this point in the season is not comforting for fans hoping to continue cheering for the team into late October.
All of the blame cannot be put on the bullpen. Plenty of games have been lost because the team could not pick up their bats, the most recent example being a 2-1 loss to the Reds. But again, you do not win a game just by pitching alone, as seen by the Cardinals this season. The offense and the defense need to pick it up if they want even the tiniest chance at seeing the playoffs.
The Cardinals have narrowly missed the postseason for the last two seasons, something the franchise is not used to. Something needs to be done. This bullpen cannot continue like this. The MLB non-waiver trade deadline is July 31, which is approaching faster than anyone would care to admit, so the Cardinals have decisions to make. They have been quiet on the trade front, with no real moves in sight. Mozeliak is saying there will be (very necessary) changes in the coming days, as well as stating that they would be willing to part ways with players who are not living up to expectations. I guess we will wait to see exactly what he means.